SIXTY SEC­ONDS WITH...

A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great gui­tarist tick. Be­fore he jumped into his limo for the air­port we grabbed a quick chat with the inim­itable Uli Jon Roth.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - Uli Jon Roth em­barks on his 50th An­niver­sary UK tour at the Sh­effield Cor­po­ra­tion on Novem­ber 29th 2018. Visit www.uli­jon­roth.com/ tour­dates. Uli has also just launched his new range of Sky Gui­tars. Visit www.sky-gui­tars.com for more news, mer­chan­dise, g

Ex-Scor­pi­ons’ lead gui­tarist and ge­nius of 30-plus-fret Air gui­tars, the great Uli Jon Roth.

there are very few amps that i like. for the past few years i pre­fer the black­star ar­ti­san 100

GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live with­out?

UJR: I now use my own sig­na­ture picks which are very sim­i­lar to Fen­der Ex­tra Heavy.

GT: If you had to give up all your ef­fects ped­als but three, which ones would you keep?

UJR: I only need a good stage de­lay and a Dig­itech Whammy pedal.

GT: Do you play an­other in­stru­ment well enough to be in a band? If so what, and have you ever done it?.

UJR: Key­boards, bass and vi­o­lin (but haven’t played that for years).

GT: If a mu­sic chart were put in front of you, could you read it?

UJR: Stan­dard sheet mu­sic – yes. That’s my pref­er­ence. I be­lieve in scores, but I don’t like jazz charts, be­cause I dis­agree with the use of their chord names.

GT: Do gui­tar ca­bles re­ally make a dif­fer­ence? What make are yours?

UJR: I’m no ex­pert there.

GT: Is there any­one’s play­ing (past or present) that you’re slightly jeal­ous of?

UJR: Paco de Lu­cia - per­fect fla­menco play­ing.

GT: Your stu­dio is burn­ing down: which gui­tar do you sal­vage?

UJR: I pre­fer not to con­tem­plate this ques­tion.

GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?

UJR: There are very few amps that I like. For the past few years I pre­fer the Black­star Ar­ti­san 100 for the stage. These are non-master vol­ume amps which re­spond very well to my Sky Gui­tars which have an enor­mous out­put. I tend to get the best tone when the vol­ume knob is at less than 50%.

GT: What kind of ac­tion do you have on your gui­tars?

UJR: My ac­tion has al­ways been high (in the olden days in­sanely so). This is be­cause I some­times use very heavy down­strokes. Low ac­tion set-ups tend to col­lapse son­i­cally when you are chal­leng­ing them with strong dy­nam­ics, and when you are re­ally lay­ing into the strings which I some­times do. High ac­tion gives you much more ex­pres­sive con­trol over the strings. The down­side is that it is some­what harder to play this way and it slows you down. But that’s a trade-off I will­ingly make for the gain in mu­si­cal ex­pres­sion. I some­times play fast, but speed is not at the top of my agenda. Mu­si­cal­ity and sound is.

GT: What strings do you use?

UJR: I use my own sig­na­ture Sky Strings by D’Orazio. I have al­ways favoured a very light top string – 008 – be­cause of the spe­cial vi­brato re­sponse I get from them. They tend to ‘shine’ more son­i­cally when play­ing lead. How­ever, for pure rhythm play­ing a heav­ier string gets you a bet­ter re­sponse. My gauges cur­rently are 008-011.5-014.5-025032-047-056.

GT: Who was your first in­flu­ence to play the gui­tar?

UJR: My neigh­bour friend back in Ger­many, Bernd Kloss (now de­ceased un­for­tu­nately),

GT: What was the first gui­tar you re­ally lusted after?

UJR: Fen­der Stra­to­caster.

GT: Can you re­mem­ber the best gig you ever did?

UJR: Not sure.

GT: Worst play­ing night­mare?

UJR: Be­ing mu­si­cally unin­spired and play­ing a use­less amp on a bad sound­ing stage.

GT: What’s the most im­por­tant mu­si­cal les­son you ever learn?

UJR: Be­come the mu­sic. Be­come the note. Be free. Mu­sic with­out in­spi­ra­tion is with­out value.

GT: Do you still prac­tise?

UJR: Rarely, but re­cently I’ve have had a re­newed in­ter­est in fin­ger­style ny­lon-string gui­tar, be­cause I am cur­rently ex­plor­ing an eight-string fla­menco Sky Gui­tar. This chal­lenges me to en­ter into com­pletely new ter­ri­tory. I’m find­ing it ex­cit­ing to play this gui­tar and have played it quite a bit over this sum­mer.

GT: Do you have a pre-gig warm-up rou­tine?

UJR: None what­so­ever. I tend to find it coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to play too much. I tend to be best when I just delve right into it. A long time ago, I learned how to ‘get into the zone’ and nowa­days I’m usu­ally al­ways in it as soon as I touch the gui­tar.

GT: If you could put to­gether a fan­tasy band with you in it, who would the other play­ers be?

i tend to be best when i just delve right into it. a long time ago i learned how to ‘get into the zone’

UJR: In Rock? Chris Squire on bass. Si­mon Phillips on drums. Rick Wake­man and Don Airey on keys.

GT: Present com­pany ac­cepted, who’s the great­est gui­tarist that’s ever lived?

UJR: Paco de Lu­cia.

GT: Is there a solo you re­ally wish you had played?

UJR: Sev­eral…

GT: What’s the solo or song of your own of which you’re most proud?

UJR: Not yet writ­ten.

GT: What would you most like to be re­mem­bered for?

UJR: It’s a bit too early to think about that yet…

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